Addressing the Top 3 Construction Industry Skills Shortages

The construction industry plays a pivotal role in shaping our built environment, but it is currently facing significant skills shortages that see 58% of organisations struggling to hire the skills they need. With the increasing demand for infrastructure projects and an ageing workforce, addressing these shortages has become crucial. According to the latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report, we need 225,000 new construction workers by 2027. In this article, we will explore the top 3 construction industry skills shortages and discuss potential strategies to overcome them.

Skilled Tradespeople

Skilled tradespeople, such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers etc, are in high demand but in short supply. This is largely due to a fall in applications from the younger generation.

According to YouGov Omnibus research, only 3% of young people aged between 18-24 have searched for a job in the construction industry.

That’s a drastically low number. So, why is the younger generation not going into construction? A reason could be that this age range has grown up in a digital world and technology is an integral part of their lives. Technology is the language they speak and a realm they are more familiar with and prefer.

Additionally, external influences such as parents and teachers may contribute to a negative perception of the construction industry. In our era, there has been an emphasis on pursuing a university education. Consequently, talented young individuals are often guided toward alternative careers, with construction not being the typical choice.

Digital and Technological Skills

As the UK construction sector continues to embrace digitisation and technology, there is a growing need for professionals with digital and technological skills. To address this shortage, construction companies should invest in training programs to upskill their existing workforce.

The Office of National Statistics say that 20% of the construction workforce are over the age of 50, and that figure rises to 58% when you add in the 29-45 age group.

Offering courses on Building Information Modeling (BIM), virtual reality, data analytics, and other emerging technologies can help bridge the skills gap. Additionally, partnering with universities and vocational schools to incorporate these skills into their curriculum in the long term can create a pipeline of skilled professionals.

Engineers

The construction industry is experiencing a shortage of engineers, including civil, structural, and mechanical engineers.

The shortage of budding engineers and technicians is adversely affecting the progress of ongoing technology and infrastructure developments, along with the UK economy. The impact is not limited to traditional job roles alone; even the demand for multidisciplinary engineers, particularly in fields like renewable technology, is being significantly affected.

49% of engineering businesses are experiencing difficulties recruiting workers with the skills they need.

To address this, collaboration between educational institutions and the industry is crucial. Recruiting and mentoring engineering graduates, providing scholarships, internships, and job placement programs, and promoting engineering careers through outreach initiatives can attract more talent to the industry.

Addressing the skills shortages in the construction industry requires a many-sided approach, both short term and long term. Investing in vocational training and apprenticeship programs, providing mentorship and development opportunities, collaborating with educational institutions, and promting careers in the industry are key strategies to bridge the gap.

Additionally, focusing on digital and technological skills, as well as sustainability practices, can help meet the evolving needs of the construction industry. By taking proactive measures to address these skills shortages, the industry can ensure a sustainable and resilient workforce that is ready to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

How do you Attract Younger People to the Construction Industry?

To attract more young people to construction jobs, there are several strategies that companies can implement. Firstly, the industry should work to improve its image and promote the industry as a viable and rewarding career path. Companies can do this by participating in career fairs and school visits, and educating young people and parents about the diverse range of roles available in the industry.

Secondly, construction companies can collaborate with educational institutions to develop programs that provide young people with hands-on experience and a clear pathway to employment. These programs can also be designed to incorporate digital and technological skills that are attractive to the younger generation.

Thirdly, the industry needs to change the perception of construction jobs as being dirty, dangerous, and low-paying. Instead, the industry needs to emphasize the opportunities for career progression, potential for entrepreneurship, and the competitive salaries and benefits available to skilled workers.

Finally, construction companies can leverage social media and other digital platforms to showcase the exciting and innovative projects they are working on, and to highlight the stories of successful young people in the industry. By taking a proactive and strategic approach to attracting young people, the construction industry can ensure a sustainable pipeline of skilled workers to meet current and future demand.

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